Michigan State Police trains its officers in the use of body cams

MARQUETTE — Troopers from the Michigan State Police Negaunee Post took part in training Thursday on the proper use of new body-worn cameras, which officers throughout the state are now using.

Sgt. Roger Hunt conducted training on use of the Motorola V300 body-worn cameras. The training covered the technical and administrative uses of the cameras, while focusing heavily on ensuring that the officers balanced accountability and safety while protecting the privacy of residents in the communities that they serve.

“It comes down to use of common sense,” Hunt said. “Self-initiated enforcement action, dispatch to in-progress type calls, traffic crash, traffic stops, in-progress domestics, things where you are going to be taking some sort of enforcement action, turn your camera on. The biggest thing is if in doubt, you think it might escalate, turn it on. I’d rather have you turn it on and not need it. Better to have it and not need it, than to want it and not have it.”

MSP troopers were previously equipped with in-car cameras only, but over the past year MSP has phased in use of the body-worn cameras, which the organization hopes will protect officers and citizens.

The organization hopes that the use of the cameras will aid officers in criminal and civil investigations, while also shielding them from what they describe as “frivolous lawsuits.” The MSP also says that the audio capabilities of the camera will be helpful assets in victim and witness interviews while capturing context and emotion in the interviews that can sometimes be lost in courtroom settings.

Some of the drawbacks, according to the MSP, of use of the cameras involve the possible negative impact their presence will have on cooperation from victims and witnesses, who may see the cameras as invasive and may not want their statements to be captured on a permanent record.

The financial burden of the cameras has also been a barrier to statewide implementation.

The costs of the cameras include the devices themselves, maintenance, storage of data and the personnel costs associated with processing and redacting sensitive materials. Funding for the program came from a $3.8 million appropriation of funds supported by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and both houses of the Michigan Legislature. An additional $2 million grant came from the Office of Justice Programs and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Randy Crouch can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. His email address is rcrouch@miningjournal.net.


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